In May 2020, Epic Games offered Grand Theft Auto V for free on the Epic Games Store, a deal that proved to be so popular it took down the store for more than eight hours. And thanks to documents discovered as part of the Epic v. Apple trial, we now have an idea of just how popular the deal was: according to an internal Epic slide, it brought more than 7 million new users to Epic’s online marketplace.
You can see the slide below, which also shows how many new users other freebies brought to the Epic Games Store. While other games like Subnautica and Civilization 6 drove a good number of signups (just under 1 million and 2.5 million, respectively), nothing comes close to the 7 million people who joined for GTA V.
But even though GTA V brought a tidal wave of new users, the Epic Games Store still has a long way to go to catch up with its primary competitor, Steam. Epic revealed on Wednesday that the Epic Games Store has 58 million monthly active users, but that’s a little less than half of the more than 120 million monthly active players that Valve last reported are on Steam.
As Protocol noted, Epic reported 56 million monthly active users in December 2020, which means that the platform has only jumped 2 million users since then. That’s a slower rate of growth than the store has seen in the past — by comparison, monthly active users jumped from 32 million in December 2019 to 56 million in December 2020, or an average of 2 million monthly active users more per month.
Despite the slower growth, Epic still seems very committed to its platform. Alongside the news of the platform’s 58 million monthly active users, Epic announced a closed beta for self-publishing on the Epic Games Store. When self-publishing is available to all, it might open the floodgates for more developers to host their games on Epic’s store, which could bring in new users.
And other documents from the Epic v. Apple trial describe an Epic initiative called “Project Moonshot” with a goal of getting the Epic Games Store to $1 billion in gross revenue by investing in “major launches, free games, and key sale(s).” It seems likely we’ll continue to see big pushes from Epic like the GTA V freebie and Borderlands 3’s initial Epic Games Store PC exclusivity at launch (which Epic paid $146 million to secure, the documents reveal) to attract gamers to its platform.